|Date||Sunday 1 December 2002|
|Distance stage||54,5 km|
|Distance acum.||1501,5 km|
|Quality of signs||Good|
|Quality of the hike||A (fantastic!): variation, impressive and very worthwhile|
I get up at 6.15am and put on my wet shoes. After a fast breakfast (“I will eat the rest while walking”) I start walking at 6.35am. It is still dark and the sky is fortunately dry. I have a tough day ahead: I want to finish today in the city of Passau, and if I manage to keep the same pace as yesterday I will get there just before sunset.
My Petzl headlight serves me well again during the first hour. In the twilight I have some difficulties to find the direction of the Trail when I cross a meadow, but once I have found the exit I continue at full speed. After a wonderful sunrise some dark clouds start to head in my direction. The Trail up to Saldenburg is nice and full of variety. After this village and the woods behind it the trail starts to follow the river Ilz. Gert Trego “warns” everybody in his description, as he wrote: “For the walk through the Ilz valley one should take the time. It is worthwhile.” As often before, he is very right about it: the valley starts as a very narrow and steep valley with a small stream chattering through. During the next 30 kilometers it becomes wider and more and more beautiful. The enjoyment reaches a remarkable high at noon when the sun starts to shine. In a beautiful winter sunshine I walk all the way through the Ilz valley, in the pace of a horse that smells the stable (old Dutch saying). The trail has lots of variation and is not as flat as I had expected it to be. I meet with several other walkers (not long distance hikers) and we chat a little. Just before Passau the Ilz floats into a big lake. After passing this one, I pass the village of Hals. For the first time in 35 kilometers I see cars again. 15 Minutes later I reach my first moment of glory of todays stage: I get to the 1500 kilometer mark of my hike to Vienna. 1.5 Kilometer further down the road, at 3.20pm, I arrive in Passau, my last finish in Germany.
According to Trego’s calculations I have covered today my third largest stage. Again, he has calculated the distance very mildly; if he is right I have walked with an average of 6,1 kilometer per hour. I take a look around teh city centre of Passau, but without full excercise it is cold outside. A great day!